‘Recovery could take three years’, say North West firms

New poll from accountancy firm BDO shows almost half of North West firms say recovery from the coronavirus crisis could take one to three years. Tony McDonough reports

Companies say recovery could take one to three years but they will still invest in apprentices


Almost half of firms across the North the West believe it could take them up to three years to get back to pre-COVID levels of trading.

In a new poll from accountancy firm BDO, 48% of companies in the region believe it will take between one and three years to return to the same levels of revenue they enjoyed prior to the pandemic.

However, business across the North West are still looking for growth with 58% of SMEs intending to take on more apprentices as a result of the Government’s move to provide companies with £1,000 for each apprentice they take on. 

Last week, Merseyside engineering firm and shipyard, Cammell Laird, said it was intending to take on 25% more apprentices this year than in 2019.

The BDO survey also revealed that 22% of businesses in the North West have launched new products and services, or invested in new technology during the coronavirus crisis, which began in March in the UK.

And, despite challenging trading conditions, companies have continued to invest in growth, with nearly 30% of companies in the North West acquiring another business since lockdown began and 32% automating processes previously done manually. 

Compared to 12 months ago, almost a quarter of companies say income has remained the same and only 2% have seen revenues increase by more than 10%. Businesses in the region are still looking towards the job retention scheme for support with more than three quarters of those surveyed still having between 11 and 20% of their workforce furloughed.  

Overwhelmingly, businesses across the North West are confident of being able to repay additional debt taken on in the last few months, with 54% saying they intend to pay it back and 14% having not taken on any.  

Ed Dwan, partner and head of BDO in the North West, said: “It’s very clear that despite the turbulent waters that North West businesses have had to navigate over the course of the coronavirus pandemic, there remains a sense of optimism in the region.  

“Unsurprisingly, the region has rallied and shown a resilience to invest in new service and product offerings, as well as technology, taking the opportunity to re-think business processes and automation in a bid to recover from the global pandemic.

“Recent Government initiatives to support businesses appear to be helping. However, the road ahead is far from easy and only 8% of businesses are confident they can continue to trade for more than nine months with their current funding arrangements, meaning this needs to be urgently reviewed.”  

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